DECLARATION ON EDUCATION FOR LIFE: Creating a Global Groundswell for Real Learning


  1. Education should prepare all young people to deal well with the real challenges of life. It should enable them to deal with tricky situations, learn difficult things, and think clearly and ethically about what matters.
  2. Schools should be models of places where students learn how to live together with civility and respect for differences and commonalities.
  3. We must find the voice to speak out with a passionate understanding that schools can and must be transformed. We must not allow ourselves to remain dispirited. Rather, we must change the narrative of what education must be in the 21st century.
  4. To flourish in the real world, children need more than literacy, numeracy and knowledge. They need qualities of mind such as curiosity, determination, imagination and self-control. Children who have discovered the deep pride that comes from crafting and mastering things to the very best of their ability carry their habits of careful thinking and self-discipline into the examination hall and onto the playing fields of life.
  5. We must find ways to document and account for how students develop the dispositions that will give them the courage to become thoughtful citizens.
  6. We must invest in teachers’ ability to know their students at a deeper level, and to know what kinds of evidence of their growth will be valid and reliable. Targeted and sophisticated professional development for teachers is a vital ingredient of the development of 21st century education.
  7. We must recognize the gifts of all students. Not all kids are bound for college or university – nor should they be. People whose talents and interests lie in practical and physical expertise – in making, doing, crafting and fixing things – are not less intelligent than those whose bent is for arguing, writing and calculating, and they are no less worthy of our respect and admiration. In fact, extended, practical problem- solving and project work can develop positive dispositions towards learning more effectively than academic study. Scholarship is an honorable craft – and so is fixing engines. Even in the digital age we need more skillful, ingenious mechanics than we do philosophers.


Arthur L. Costa, Granite Bay, CA
Guy Claxton, Winchester, England, UK
Bena Kallick, Westport, CT

Readers are encouraged to reproduce and widely distribute this declaration, “Creating a Groundswell for Real Learning” along with reference to this book, Costa, A. & Kallick. B. (2014). Dispositions: Reframing teaching and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. Permission is granted for the declaration only.


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